Contributed by Vic Kohring
On occasion, something unusual occurs in my life that's too eye opening to be a coincidence. My agnostic friends (most of my friends are Christian) laugh off such incidents to happenstance or something accidental without any connection to God. But I've been subject to them literally dozens, if not hundreds of times, and am convinced there's a reason behind it and therefore should not be shrugged off as a fluke or random occurrence.
During the depths of my legal woes in recent years, I needed an escape to get my mind off the government savagely bearing down on me. A good friend, Werner Schuster of Palmer and the owner of Wolf Country USA, offered to take me halibut fishing at Deep Creek, so I took him up on it. The timing couldn't have been better as I was in a pressure cooker of unbearable stress. Something needed to give and fishing was the perfect antidote. So I took the three hour drive south to try my hand at halibut for a day.
While on the water in Werner's 19-foot skiff, fishing was slow, although we were enjoying the sunny, warm weather and calm bluish-gray water of Cook Inlet about a mile off shore. An orca even surfaced fifty feet away to our delight. Werner was using his brand new deep sea fishing rod with a sparkling chrome-plated reel for the first time. The set-up cost him over $500.00 he explained, no small investment. It was a Cadillac of fishing poles. After a couple hours without even a nibble, Werner decided to take a short break and placed his pole down to grab a soda from the cooler.
Seconds later - wouldn't you know - Werner got a bite. Some would chalk it up to Murphy's Law - the second he set his pole down was the very moment a fish struck. Werner's pole was yanked overboard as he lunged forward trying to grab it, resulting in a few colorful words. The pole dropped ninety feet to the ocean floor and seemed gone forever. We had a depth-finder, so we knew the precise distance to the bottom.
I continued fishing as Werner sat discouraged. Then five minutes later, I received a firm tug on my line, my first hit of the day. After setting the hook, I began to reel in the fish. It seemed enormous as it pulled hard. Initially I guessed it was seventy-five pounds, perhaps a hundred or more as it felt so heavy. After a fifteen minute struggle, a halibut broke the surface. But to my surprise, it was a little chicken - maybe twenty pounds at most. I was perplexed as I expected much more. So why did it pull so hard and feel as if I hooked a small whale?
As I hauled the fish aboard and reached for its mouth to remove the hook, I noticed something peculiar. There were two hooks, not one. Attached to the second was a line that went straight back in the water. So I began to pull on it with anticipation, wondering if there was something on the other end. Sure enough, after another fifteen minutes and a big pile of accumulated filament on the boat's floor, a fishing pole appeared. To our amazement, it was Werner's, the very pole he lost minutes before. We were astounded!
After the halibut bit Werner's line and "stole" his pole, the same fish turned around unfazed and went after my bait. When you consider the enormity of the ocean floor and all the fish and critters that abound down there, it was a remarkable occurrence. One in a thousand at least. This also explained why the fish appeared so heavy as I was pulling in not only my halibut, but a second rod and reel off the bottom. A true miracle. A small one, but nevertheless, a miracle.
Forget the agnostics and naysayers. Even if such miracles are minor, they make life easier and more interesting. But more important, they remind us of God's presence. Werner is no longer with us and I miss him as he was a good man. But what a memory to leave behind of our friendship. And what a way to top off our fishing trip before my return to the ugly reality of fighting off a rabid group of federal prosecutors in a case now known as the biggest political scandal in Alaska's history.